Owning a handgun is something that’s been on your mind for a while… Maybe it’s because you have close friends who are involved in shooting sports, or perhaps you have relatives who own firearms for home security and have encouraged you to do the same. These are often the trusted relationships that inspire us to become first-time gun owners.
To help ensure that you choose the ideal first firearm for your personal needs, here are six quick tips to help you with your purchase decision.
1. Preliminary Planning
For many, the purchase of a first handgun can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can, talk to other firearm owners and ask questions, there is no such thing as a dumb question. You can never be too informed. With knowledge under your gun belt and safety on your mind, find a licensed firearm dealer that appeals to you. Tools like our online Dealer Locator make it easy to find one near you. If possible, look for a retailer with an on-site range, many will allow you to try before you buy.
2. Training & Permitting
It’s a great idea to complete a gun safety training course prior to owning your firearm. In fact, some states will require a training course before you can apply for your permit. Not sure about your state’s requirements? The USCCA is a great resource to learn about permit and reciprocity laws for your state.
3. Know Your Needs
Three key questions to ask yourself for this purchase are:
1. Am I using this for recreational shooting at a range?
2. Do I plan to conceal carry? Remember, to confirm your eligibility to do so in your state before carrying.
3. Is this for home protection?
Once you know the answers, you should have a better idea of what you are looking for. If you decide to buy your first gun in person, the salesperson can direct you to different handguns that will meet your criteria.
4. Try Before You Buy
If you are able to visit a retailer with an on-site range, it can be eye opening for a first-time gun purchase. Many of these ranges offer rental guns so you can take them for a “test drive” to ensure that you’re making the right choice.
5. Make your purchase
Once you’ve made a purchase decision, you’ll present your salesperson with a valid photo I.D. and your permit (where applicable). From there you’ll fill out an ATF Form 4473. This is a Firearms Transaction Form in which you confirm that you are legally eligible to purchase the gun you’ve chosen. Your FFL then submits your information to the FBI for a background check.
6. Congratulations, it’s time to accessorize
You’ve exercised your Second Amendment right to own your first handgun, congratulations. Before you head out, remember the questions you asked yourself in tip 3. If you’re heading to the range, you’ll need some targets, and maybe even a range bag. If you plan to conceal carry, you’ll need a holster. How about some eye and ear protection and some ammo? Your journey with your firearm is just getting started.